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Chechnya’s leader ready to organize Finnish reporter’s trip at Russian diplomat’s request

During Wednesday’s press briefing, Maria Zakharova called on Kadyrov to organize a trip to the republic for the Finnish reporter interested in alleged persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya

MOSCOW, May 31. /TASS/. Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov will organize a trip to his homeland for the Finnish reporter who asked Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova a question about alleged persecution of gay people in that Russian North Caucasian region, Kadyrov said in an interview with Life news on Wednesday.

"I’m always ready. What is more, I will grant Maria Zakharova’s request. To tell the truth, I am a bit at a loss that either I as head of the Chechen Republic or Zakharova as the Foreign Ministry official should do the work for journalists, which means to organize them, direct and urge them to be impartial and independent," Kadyrov said.

"But, as I’ve already said, I’m ready to help and so will send an invitation to the Finnish media to visit our republic," he noted.

Chechnya’s leader said he would be ready to answer any foreign reporters’ questions.

"At any time. I am always ready - 24 hours a day," he said.

During Wednesday’s press briefing, Zakharova called on Kadyrov to organize a trip to the republic for the Finnish reporter interested in alleged persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya.

Alleged LGBT people's rights violations in Chechnya 

On April 1, Novaya Gazeta published an article on its website entitled "Murder of Dignity" which referred to some alleged abductions and possible killings of Chechen residents over their non-traditional sexual orientations or on suspicion of being gay. The paper cited anonymous sources in law enforcement agencies and also victims, without revealing their names.

On April 20, the Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that probing into the claims about persecutions of individuals with nonstandard sexual orientation in Chechnya had not produced any substantiated evidence. Tatiana Moskalkova, the Russian President’s ombudsperson for human rights, came up with a supposition the allegations regarding the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya might have been a provocation.

The Civil Society and Human Rights Council under Chechnya’s leader said it had scrutinized the article and found no confirmations at all, even indirect ones, that the alleged incidents actually took place. A corresponding statement by the regional council was published on the website of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights on April 4.

On May 5, Moskalkova informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that she had recently been tackling violations of LGBT people’s rights. She asked Putin to commission the creation of a working group outside Chechnya, which would be entrusted with dealing with Chechen residents’ appeals if any were made. Putin promised to discuss this with Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov said for his part the regional authorities were ready to cooperate with federal agencies for verifying the mass media reports on the situation with sexual minorities in the region but no one had filed any official petitions on offenses against them.

Kadyrov was confident that the West knew perfectly well that these persecution allegations were false "but they get used to saying things that are in their interest instead of telling the truth," he added.